22 February 2018
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to live up to his promises articulated in his maiden State of the National Address (SONA), by urgently intervening and resolving the long running crisis at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). The Achilles heel of Prasa’s operations in Cape Town, the Central Line, which for months now has seen thousands of working class commuters and FEDUSA members repeatedly arriving late at work or not arriving at all, because the overcrowded trains were either running late, or not running at all. Tragically on a few instances, the central line was temporarily shut down due to UNTU members paying the ultimate price and losing their lives to terribly unsafe working conditions, amongst a myriad of other safety hazards, said Dennis George, FEDUSA General Secretary.
Over the preceding months, FEDUSA and its affiliate, the majority union at Prasa, the United National Transport Union (UNTU) have respectfully and dutifully followed all the established channels by communicating their legitimate grievances starting with the Prasa reginal management structures, the provincial government structures, as well as the national Ministry of Transport and Public Enterprises, to no avail. Promises to look into these serious grievances and assist timeously by instructing Prasa regional management to follow through with action on the ground, has not been forthcoming and as a result of the crisis, crime has spilled into the Central Line with hundreds of commuters being robbed of their personal belongings at gunpoint, small children injured, women indecently assaulted and some workers have been dismissed from their jobs – in the context of a dire economic situation – as companies became increasingly impatient with their late coming or failing to report for work repeatedly due to a deficient service, argued George. In a related development, UNTU has applauded the crucial move that has been taken by Prasa Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mthuthuzeli Swartz, to place Metrorail Regional Manager Richard Walker on special leave, for his dithering about the Central Line crisis over the past 20 months.
In light of President Ramaphosa’s recent and widely publicised criticism on good corporate governance and service delivery by State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s), FEDUSA is insisting that the President live up to his promises and ensure that the working class commuters in Cape Town and South Africa as a whole, continue to work unhindered in a safe and reliable environment, where transport services are modernized, affordable and accessible to all citizens as envisioned by the National Development Plan (NDP).
An urgent compact and economic summit in the transport commuter sector, headed by President Ramaphosa must be fast tracked, where the Ministers of Transport, Public Enterprises, Police, PRASA, UNTU, FEDUSA and all stakeholders, jointly commit to realign and reinvest in the sector to ensure that the dire needs of members and commuters can be safe guarded, insisted George. Whilst the President promotes a culture of healthy living through his recent walkabouts in Cape Town during the past few days, FEDUSA and UNTU extends an open invite to President Ramaphosa to embark on a joint walkabout on the notorious Central Line at 06h00, to endure the crisis at first hand, when UNTU and other FEDUSA – affiliated members and ordinary commuters are at the coal face for yet another bracing ride.
FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry. See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.
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